Fans of the Mass Effect gaming franchise can now take home a bit of the action I.R.L., thanks to one maker’s open-source 3D printing project. A gamer going by the moniker of “Optimistic Geometry” (who also goes by David) has 3D printed his own mostly functional M3 Predator Pistol replica, and the results are impressive to say the least. The mechanics are ingenious in their simplicity: users can simply pick up the gun, hit a button, and the replica unfolds. Clicking the button again returns the prop to its original state, as it promptly re-compresses back to its original form, just like in the Mass Effect games.
David has uploaded his construction process as a build thread on the Replica Prop Forum. Currently on his third prototype, the maker created his own geared system to achieve a slow unfolding motion that’s true to the game. While the first prototype included simple joints and motions without any of the detail, and the second featured a simple spring loaded mechanism and small latch to hold it closed, the third version boasts a small motor to drive the mechanism back and forth with latches to hold the device both open and closed. That being said, Prototype Two has amassed a bit of a following on its own, as a simpler version that still bears a serious resemblance to the original game shooter.
When asked what the most difficult part of the process was, David replied, “The most important lesson I learned was how to fail. Overcoming that fear has improved my life outside of making as well. There are lots of challenges to making, from learning the tolerances of a 3D printer to making a mechanism slide smoothly. However, the greatest challenge [for this build] was [the process of] miniaturisation and fitting a mechanism, battery, and circuit inside an object that collapses into itself,” he said.
On his build thread, the savvy gamer acknowledges that with such a packed mechanism, merely having enough space for the gears and electronics was a serious hurdle he needed to overcome. But after about a year of experimenting and refining, Optimistic Geometry is happy with the final result. In its current incarnation, the folding M3 Predator Pistol was designed using Fusion 360 software, then 3D printed in its entirety on an Ultimaker. The maker says he did much of his work at MAKLab Glasgow, a Scottish network of prototyping, digital making, and manufacturing studios.
Julia. “This 3D Printed Mass Effect Replica Unfolds and Refolds with the Click of a Button.”3ders.org. N.p., 22 May 2017. Web. 22 May 2017.